Gone are the days of malls, mom and pop stores, and various other brick and mortar outlets. They have been replaced by online merchants, specialty “long-tail sites like Etsy,” demand channels such as eBay, and social sales through Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram among others.
When the distribution point of your product changes, it is imperative that your marketing strategies change with it. Why? New distribution points suggest you are dealing with consumers who have adopted new purchasing behaviors or, perhaps even more challenging. You need to re-train existing customers on these new digital protocols without losing their business. A great example lies in the fact that online buyers can’t physically touch the merchandise before they buy it. For some, who have grown up in the “online” world. This isn’t an issue. However, for department stores such as JCPenney’s and Macy’s with a funnel full of brick and mortar customers used to handling the merchandise. This is a problem that must be addressed.
The savvy marketers at Zappos quickly found the solution to this problem with their free returns and exchanges policies. Today, major retailers (including the aforementioned) have followed suit and now offer free returns. Some go so far as to streamline the process by providing return labels inside their packages and expedited reimbursement paths through the customer’s account section of their site. While John Q buyer still can’t touch the product before he makes his purchase, these policies reduce the perceived risk of their pre-purchase rituals and help close the gap between the brick and mortar and online worlds.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to the changes the new “online” marketing landscape has forced on firms large and small. Customer reviews have become imperative for a company’s success as well as PCI compliant websites, PayPal payment channels, mobile-friendly landing pages, and social listening and engagement by the brand.
However, one core marketing element remains unchanged.
Opportunities to See still dominates the marketer’s playbook. Ultimately, the adperson’s primary goal still boils down to getting the brand name in front of as many relevant consumers as possible, so you can get them into the sales funnel where they will start the buying process.
I will argue that it is even more important now than ever.
In the past world of brick and mortar selling, competition was somewhat limited by physical location. E.g. you had to have a store or place for your customers to go to compete. Today, many barriers to entry like this have been torn down like the Berlin Wall. It no longer matters where you are located or how much intellectual and financial capital you have. If you have the will and an internet connection. You can compete. Last year, popular online commerce platform Shopify announced the company supported over 375,000 merchants alone by the end of 2016. That’s just one “out of the box” provider that caters to the “limited entrepreneur.” Add in other services such as Volusion, Magento, Bigcommerce, Wix, WordPress, and proprietary sites and it is very likely your business (no matter how niche it may be) is competing with a plethora of other brands across the web for the same customer’s attention. However, it get’s even more difficult. Since it takes the average online patron numerous views across multiple channels before they click “buy now.” Getting your message in front of those customers as many times as possible becomes a key ingredient to your success.
Yes, the distribution channel has changed and, yes, marketing strategies have changed with it. However, don’t let modern agencies scare you with new terms such as bounce rate, page views, click-through rate (CTR), cost per thousand (CPM). It all boils down to one basic fundamental that hasn’t changed in marketing strategy.
Opportunities to See.